Hundreds of cruise-goers have voiced their fury after their dream trip turned into a nightmare.

More than 2000 passengers were excited to board the luxury Norwegian Sun for a two-week journey between Miami and Los Angeles via the Panama Canal last month. They had no idea what they were in for.

It was only once the vessel had set sail that passengers who had paid thousands of dollars for the holiday were told that upgrades would be taking place onboard from March 16.

But the sheer scale of the works ended up being beyond anything they could have imagined.

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Parts of the cruise ship were closed. Photo / via Facebook
Parts of the cruise ship were closed. Photo / via Facebook

Passenger Mae-Claire Locke says her family endured "16 days of hell" on the ship.

"It wasn't a vacation," she said. "It was a full-on construction zone."

Many of the ship's restaurants and amenities were closed, there was excessive noise and passengers also complained of the smell of chemicals.

Locke also told of how shards of metal went into her son's eyes.

"We had to take him to the doctor as we couldn't unglue his eyes with hot or cold face cloths. They put us all in significant danger."

Fellow passenger Charles P. O'Dale wrote on a Facebook page created to bring attention to the nightmare: "These are the metal shards that rained down on us in our balcony from a jack hammer one metre above us.

"This is the danger to my health and safety they put me in with metal chips/filings that we were exposed to on our cabin balcony. Hopefully we did not inhale any.

"Work like this requires eye/ear/breathing protection, we had none."

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Annie Barber was also on the ship and said the scale of the work was unbelievable.

"By Sunday 18th March we were shocked at the level of work that was being carried out," she said.

"Old deck flooring was being removed and new liquid flooring laid and then polished.

A view from the deck. Photo / via Facebook
A view from the deck. Photo / via Facebook

"Existing metal supports were also rubbed down when old decking was being removed. Debris from this work was constantly falling everywhere on the ship and airborne particles were very evident.

"There was a strong smell of chemicals for long periods during the cruise, not only in the public areas but also in our stateroom."

Call for action

Passengers Annie Barber and Alan Taylor posted a letter she had written to the company detailing what happened on Facebook.

"We made many complaints to Guest Services as the noise was becoming impossible and we were getting quite worried by what we might be inhaling and ingesting through food and drink," she wrote. "We were also concerned that some deck areas (some still open to passengers and some not) were being used as storage areas for what looked like chemicals and paint tins, plant equipment etc.

"There was constant noise from equipment workmen were using, such as jack hammers and sanding/sawing equipment. Old deck flooring was being removed and new liquid flooring laid and then polished, existing metal supports were also rubbed down when old decking was being removed. Debris from this work was constantly falling everywhere on the ship and airborne particles were very evident.

There was excessive noise and passengers also complained of the smell of chemicals. Photo / via Facebook
There was excessive noise and passengers also complained of the smell of chemicals. Photo / via Facebook

"There was a strong smell of chemicals for long periods during the cruise, not only in the public areas but also in our stateroom. A lot of passengers were complaining of irritation to eyes/skin/breathing. Workmen were provided with industrial masks.

"We will be looking for a refund of our entire so-called holiday — cruise fare, all flights and transportation costs. We would also expect some compensation for the ruined holiday of a lifetime, the stress and discomfort that this work created and now the amount of time that we are having to spend dealing with all this.

"We are also concerned at potential long/short term health problems passengers may suffer due to inhaling and ingesting these unknown chemicals and substances throughout the entirety of this cruise.

The work on the deck. Photo / via Facebook
The work on the deck. Photo / via Facebook

"Had we been informed prior to the cruise that this extensive work would be carried out, we would have cancelled."

'An inconvenience'

The cruise company has since offered those affected a 25 per cent discount on their next cruise, which passengers have slammed as being unacceptable.

A spokeswoman told Newsweek: "At Norwegian Cruise Line, we continuously aim to offer the best vacation experience for all our guests. As part of our Norwegian Edge programme, Norwegian Sun is undergoing enhancements to better serve our guests. The programme is a significant investment designed to ensure every ship across the fleet delivers a consistently high-quality experience to all of our guests.

"While we do our utmost to minimise any impact on the guest experience when these enhancements are taking place, we recognise that in this situation our guests experienced some inconvenience."